I feel lucky having spent 17 years in the company of CLIFTON ("Kip") FADIMAN at the Book-of-the-Month Club, learning from him how to read. Bearing witness to his reports--he wrote one on every book he read for the club--and his discussions at the monthly meeting of the judges was like taking the world's best creative writing course. He was a humane critic, seldom unkind, with few foibles. (I once did hear him say, "Faulkner makes me giggle.") The books he loved most were those that bore two Fadiman standards: lucidity and a mind at work. He found those qualities most notably...

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